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New York mayor declares city 'epicenter'

Here are the latest updates from around the world.
Image: An Indonesian police officer sprays disinfectant in the Baiturrahman grand mosque, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Banda Aceh
An Indonesian police officer sprays disinfectant in the Baiturrahman grand mosque, amid concerns of the COVID-19 coronavirus, in Banda Aceh on March 20, 2020.Chaideer Mahyuddin / AFP - Getty Images

Wall Street took another dive Friday as the Dow Jones Industrial Average sunk by 916 points and saw 18 percent of its value disappear over the course of the week.

The Dow saw all the gains made since President Donald Trump took office erased.

Also in New York City, the suspended presidential campaign of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg told staffers Friday there was a confirmed case of COVID-19 at its Times Square headquarters, a campaign official confirmed to NBC News.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday evening the city has 5,151 coronavirus cases and 29 deaths associated with the virus. "We are now the epicenter of this crisis" in the United States, he said.

In California the number of cases, more than 1,000, has doubled in three days. Los Angeles County, the nation's most populous, reported it now has a total of 292 cases.

There are now more than 250,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus around the world, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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Production of Tom Hanks film halted

Production of an Elvis biopic featuring Tom Hanks has been officially postponed, its makers said Friday.

"Despite valiant efforts, due to current world events, production on the Elvis film cannot proceed at this time," a Warner Bros. spokesperson said. "We will commence principal photography once circumstances permit."

On March 11, Hanks said on social media that he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19 and were isolating themselves in Australia, where the movie was being shot at a Warner Bros. satellite studio.

Filming was reportedly stopped around that time. Director Baz Luhrmann said on Twitter Friday, "We are not even taking our sets down, simply locking up the creative space over the next few days."

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Photo: Spanish hospital staff demand more equipment

Protesting hospital staff demand more protective equipment Friday in Vitoria, Spain, the day after a Spanish nurse died from COVID-19 at another hospital in northern Spain.Alvaro Barrientos / AP

D.C. mayor extends schools closures, ban on mass gatherings

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Friday that she's extending various city-wide restrictions and told residents to "stay home."

Through April 27, Washington, D.C. schools will continue distance learning, district government will continue teleworking and operating in modified status and the ban on mass gatherings will continue, she said during a news conference Friday.

"Stay home. More than everything, we need anyone who is not performing an essential service or activity to stay home. Don't treat this like a normal weekend. There will be more weekends, more nice days," Bowser said.

This comes after the first reported death of a person who tested positive for coronavirus in D.C. and confirmed cases spiked from 39 to 71 cases overnight. Cherry blossom trees in the nation's capital have reached peak bloom, a moment each spring that usually brings droves of admirers to the National Mall.

Archdiocese of Chicago churches ring bells calling for prayers

Five times a day, the bells will ring out in the Roman Catholic churches that dot the landscape in the city of Chicago as a call to prayer during the coronavirus crisis.

“Our hope is that people will have the experience of being united in prayer, especially at a time when we are so isolated,” said Cardinal Blase Cupich, who heads the third largest archdiocese in the U.S.

The archdiocese has also posted prayers on its website that could be said in the three major languages spoken in Chicago – English, Polish and Spanish.

California cases double in three days to over 1,000

The California Department of Public Health announced Friday the state now has exceeded 1,000 cases, more than doubling from just three days ago.

The new figures — 1,006 confirmed cases and 19 deaths — come a day after Gov. Gavin Newsom announced a statewide “stay at home” order for all of California’s 40 million residents, except for those working in critical industries, including health care, government, infrastructure and food distribution.

There were 472 cases in the state on March 17.

Los Angeles County, the country's most populous, reported 61 new cases Friday, bringing its total to 292. Ten percent of about 2,400 people tested through Wednesday have turned up positive in the county.

Two people with ties to Pentagon test positive

Two people with ties to the Pentagon have tested positive for coronavirus, Air Force officials said Friday. 

A defense contractor who works for the Air Force tested positive and was last in the building on March 2. An active duty member who works for Defense Health Agency, in Falls Church, Virginia, tested positive for COVID-19.  He was last in the Pentagon on Monday.  

Afternoon roundup of coronavirus coverage

Social distancing is here to stay for much more than a few weeks. It will upend our way of life, in some ways forever. [MIT Technology Review]

WhatsApp is at the center of coronavirus response [Wired]

New coronavirus package could unravel protections for students with disabilities [HuffPost]

Open? Closed? Florida officials settle on variety of decisions on beaches

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday ordered the closing beaches in two counties: Broward and Palm Beach. But without a statewide edict, local authorities have settled on a variety of decisions on how to handle people flooding to their shores. 

Many counties and cities have outright closed their beaches. Pinellas County — where Clearwater and St. Petersburg are located — was a holdout, but ordered its beaches closed before noon on Friday. (Clearwater had already voted to close its beaches.)

Meanwhile, Panama City Beach's chamber of commerce declared Thursday that beaches there aren't closed, and the town is "open for business." Beaches in the Florida Keys are also open — but its hotels, guest houses, short-term rentals in RV parks and vacation rentals will be closed to visitors starting Sunday, Monroe county's emergency management department ordered.

Trump campaign job listing asks students 'Are you looking to make the most of your quarantine?'

President Trump’s Wisconsin re-election campaign is offering high school and college students stuck at home a way to turn social distancing into a resume builder. 

“Hey students!” said a job listing posted by the Trump Victory Campaign on Friday. “Are you looking to make the most of your quarantine? Team Trump WI is offering fellowships that are 100% online for the remainder of the Spring semester, perfect for high school and college students whose semester ended early due to the COVID-19 outbreak.”

“Upon completion of the fellowship, letters of recommendation will be available. This dynamic program may also earn you college credit and may provide future job opportunities. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.”

Death toll in Italy hits grim milestone

Italian officials said Friday that 627 more deaths from the coronavirus were reported from the day before, bringing the death toll to 4,032 people. It is the biggest day-to-day increase in the country during this outbreak.

Across the country, which is in the second week of its nationwide quarantine, more than 47,000 have tested positive for the virus, up nearly 6,000 more people from Thursday, said Angelo Borrelli, the chief of Italy's Civil Protection.

Meanwhile, of those who have tested positive, more than 5,100 people have also recovered, officials said.